Politics: Having failed to convince deputies that he bears no political responsibility for a maverick secret service, Jean-Claude Juncker will ask the Grand Duke to dissolve parliament.
A marathon parliamentary debate on the parliamentary commission report into the workings of the Luxembourg secret service (SREL) came to a swift and dramatic end at just before 9 p.m. on Wednesday evening.
Prime minister Jean-Claude Juncker, who had defiantly told parliament that they must vote on if they truly thought he should be held responsible for the maverick actions of members of the SREL (which falls under his responsibility as minister of state), stepped up to announce that he would be asking Grand Duke Henri to dissolve parliament and for new elections to be held this autumn, some seven months ahead of schedule.
Earlier François Bausch of the Greens had delivered the commission’s report to parliament, concluding that the secret service was behaving in a maverick manner without proper control from Juncker and with little accountability to parliament.
The prime minister then gave a robust and detailed defence, saying he had not made the secret service a political priority, had not been informed of various operations it was undertaking and admitted he had made mistakes in some aspects of SREL management. But he failed to offer his resignation, as many commentators believed he would.
His speech sparked anger among opposition parties; especially the Greens and DP who had already threatened to submit another motion of no confidence in the government should Juncker fail to take full political responsibility. The Green submitted just such a motion, signed by the DP, ADR and Déi Lénk.
Nevertheless, that motion would still have failed, as it did last month, without the support of the junior coalition party in the Juncker government, the socialist LSAP.
But at around 7 p.m. the socialists submitted their own parliamentary motion. The party’s president Alex Bodry demanded that the prime minister take full political responsibility and that he request the head of state to take the necessary steps for new elections.
At that point Juncker and his CSV party knew the game was up and held a crisis meeting, which resulted in the prime minister calling for new elections before a vote of no confidence could be held. “I never would have imagined that the LSAP of all parties would trip me up,” Juncker said, clearly disappointed in his coalition partners.
Elections on October 20?
Juncker will on Thursday head a final meeting of his government before heading over to the palace to ask the Grand Duke, as head of state, to dissolve parliament. Elections must take place within three months, during which time Luxembourg will effectively have no government--the Grand Duke will most likely ask Juncker to form an interim government but it will have no political power. The most likely date for the election is October 20.
Whether Juncker leads his CSV party into the election is still unclear. The party’s parliamentary faction leader, Michel Wolter has said that Juncker will be at the head of the CSV list.
As for the LSAP, the choice between leading candidates is between veteran Jean Asselborn, who has experience as deputy prime minister ad foreign minister, or relative newcomer Etienne Schneider, the current minister of the economy and foreign trade.
The DP may well choose Xavier Bettel to front its campaign--he is the most popular politician in Luxembourg--although he has publicly stated that he will carry out his full mandate as mayor of Luxembourg city (which runs until 2017).